Waste picking provides between 60 000 and 90 000 informal self-employment opportunities in South Africa. This study investigates the labour market of waste pickers in the Bellville CBD, highlighting their socio-economic vulnerability. Two-thirds had a previous formal sector job for an average three years. Forty per cent of these lost this job due to business layoffs. They earn on average approximately R2 900 per month, with 70\% of them earning below the average. This is lower than the average income of R3 645 of the elementary occupation workers in the QLFS 2017 data. For the waste pickers, under-employment likelihood is the highest in the low-income method (26\%), followed by the time-based method (24\%), and over-qualification method (16\%). Waste pickers provide an invaluable service to local authorities. Practitioners and policymakers need to urgently engage in facilitative processes to dignify their working conditions and value the work that they are doing.